Season 11 of American Idol has finally narrowed the contestants down to 24 semi-finalists: 12 girls and 12* guys. Today, the 12 guys will perform, tomorrow the 12 girls and then on Thursday one or two or four of the contestants will be sent packing. Idol seems to change up the format for this semi-finals round every year. Some years they eliminate 2 guys and 2 girls each week until they get to a final 12 - and I am guessing that is what they will do again this year. Either way, Ryan Seacrest will tell us for sure about 11,000 times tonight...American Idol...on FOX...8pm!!
*Idol always likes to mix in a gimmick or two each season, and this season is no different; they will add a 13th guy to the mix in a "surprise" fashion tonight. They have narrowed it down to four hopefuls, and I will include them in the preview below.
I admit to being an avid American Idol watcher and feel that I can handicap the field fairly well at this point. Surprisingly, I feel like I know what works and what doesn't on Idol for both the judges and the American voting audience better than the contestants. You would think they'd learn after 11 seasons that song choice/persona is 90% of the battle...but they never do.
Anyway, below is a preview of the top 12 guys. I will preview the top 12 girls tomorrow and then will have a post later in the week explaining the American Idol Fantasy "League" that my buddy Mike and I have been doing for the past 4 seasons. Yes...I said American Idol Fantasy League.
LUCKY NO. 13:
As I said, Idol decided to add a 13th guy to the semi-finals this year, but they haven't told us who that will be. They did narrow it down to four hopefuls: Jermaine Jones, Richie Law, Johnny Keysar and David Leathers, Jr.
Richie Law is the annoying-as-hell country guy who is best known for his conflict with the Asian guy, Heejun Han, during the Hollywood group round. He has no shot at the 13th spot, but if somehow he does make it, he will be amongst the first guys booted back home.
Johnny Keysar apparently didn't even make it to the final cuts in Hollywood, but had his name thrown into the ring for this 13th spot anyway. I don't remember much about him, but rumor has it he is a good looking guy who J-Lo loves. That at least gives him a chance...though I doubt he makes much noise even if he's selected.
Jermaine Jones is a momma's boy as we found out in Hollywood and he has a super, super deep voice. I just don't see him as an "American Idol." He did get a lot of screen time in Hollywood though, and is my dark-horse for the 13th spot.
David Leathers, Jr. is my pick for Lucky No. 13. He was a popular contestant from the very first episode of Season 11, when he nailed his audition and claimed his middle name was "Steal Yo Girl." Some compare him to a young Michael Jackson and I could see him making the final 12 based on popularity alone if he gets the 13th spot.
Lots of talent...but I don't remember much about him. There are two black guys in the semi-finals this year and both have a lot of talent. However, black guys just do not have a great track record on Idol, ever since the early days of Ruben Studdard. Ceiling: Top 10.
Adam got a shitload of screen time in Hollywood, which usually bodes well for contestants early on in the semi-finals. He reminds me of a mix between Danny Gokey and Taylor Hicks, which is a good thing since Gokey finished 3rd and Hicks won (miraculously). I'm just not sure he can win - might be a little too "old" based on recent Idol results. Ceiling: Top 5.
Honestly, I have no clue who this guy is. Reasonably good looking dude, which helps. And I have heard he sings country. Hard to predict his ceiling if I don't know much about him, but there is probably a reason for that. Ceiling: Top 12.
Colton has the benefit of significant screen time, thanks to the fact that he made it to the final cuts in Hollywood last year as well. He has the right mix of personality, looks and voice to cruise to the top 12. However, there is a reason he didn't make the top 24 last season...he just isn't that great. Ceiling: Top 10.
Sometimes my feelings towards a particular contestant cloud my judgment...and this is one of those times. Dude just rubs me the wrong way. A little too eccentric for my tastes and probably a little too old for the current Idol voting demographic (read: 10-18 year old girls). Ceiling: He's hit it.
DeAndre has a very nice falsetto...but that's about it. Oh, and he has crazy hair. That combination might keep him around for a week or two, but I doubt he makes the top 12. Ceiling: Semi-finalist.
Kid is only 15 and has some talent. If he can play the right cards ("hey look girls, I'm a cute little 15 year old boy just like Justin Bieber was/is") then I think he can cruise to at least the top 12. I'm just not sure he's talented enough to make it much past there. Ceiling: Top 8.
Heejun is another guy who benefits from LOTS of screen time in Hollywood. He has the hipster look going for him, which may or may not work to his advantage. And he has a really, really strong voice. However, he has major dictation problems. In the past, contestants who have an accent that seeps through during their performances (Stefano from last season) have a tough time making it past the top 5. Ceiling: Top 6.
I don't like this kid. Not sure why, but I don't. I admittedly did not see much of him during the Hollywood weeks, but he annoyed me and that probably means he'll annoy some voters as well. Ceiling: Semi-finalist.
I must have missed the episodes where this guy was featured, if at all, because the only performances I saw were brief clips shown in last week's elimination episodes. But I will tell you what - dude can sing! I know I said black males do not have a great track record recently, but this guy could buck that trend. Ceiling: Top 3.
Yes, that is his real name. And believe it or not, he is probably the front runner right now simply because he is a combination of the past 3-4 male Idol winners. He can play the guitar and make popular R&B songs his own (David Cook), he is a good looking guy that is still young (Scotty McCreery) and he seems genuine and likeable (Kris Allen). Ceiling: Winner.
Reed is uniquely talented and that got a lot of play during Hollywood and his audition. He reminds me of last year's Casey Abrams - who also was quirky and very musically talented. I am not sure how strong his voice is...but if his uniqueness plays up to the audience instead of annoying them, he could be one of the last males standing. Ceiling: Top 6.
There you have it. Without seeing any live performances, I would say the front-running guys right now are Phillip Phillips, Heejun Han, Joshua Ledet, Adam Brock and Reed Grimm.